#List of Rights, Draft Bill of Rights* 28 January

Previous List: #List of Rights c. 5 December 1869

On 27 January 1870, the Convention of Forty appointed a committee of six to draw up a draft List of Rights to be presented to Commissioner from Canada, Donald A. Smith.[1] The committee’s list was presented on 29 January for review by the members of the convention, prior to submission to Smith. There were, however, two lists devised by the committee: “one to be presented to Mr. Smith on the event of our seeking admission into the Dominion as a Territory; the other in the event of our going in as a Province.”[2] In the end, the Convention only considered, and Smith only reviewed, the list for entering as a territory.[3] The contents of the list for entering as a province are unknown. The document containing “a list of demands in the event of the country entering the Dominion as a Territory”[4] (reconstituted below from the text of the discussion with Smith) was debated and revised article by article.


1.         That in view of the present exceptional position of the North West duties upon goods imported into the Country shall continue as at present (except in the case of spirituous liquors) for three years, and for such further time as may elapse until there be uninterrupted railroad communication between Red River Settlt [sic] and St. Paul, and also Steam Communication between Red River Settlmt [sic] & Lake Superior.

2.         That as long as this Country remains a Territory in the Dominion of Canada there shall be no direct taxation except such as may be imposed by the local legislature for municipal or other local purposes.

3.         That during the time this Country shall remain in the position of a Territory in the Dominion of Canada all military, civil and other public expenses in connection with the general government of the country—or that have hitherto been borne by the public funds of the Settlement, beyond the receipt of the above mentioned duties, shall be met by the Dominion of Canada.

4.         That while the burden of public expense in this Territory is borne by Canada, the Country be governed by a Lieutt. Governor from Canada, and a Legislature, three members of whom, being heads of Depts [sic] of the Government shall be nominated by the Governor General of Canada.

5.         That after the expiration of this exceptional period, the Country shall be governed as regards its local affairs, as the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec are now governed, by a Legislature by the people, and a Ministry responsible to it, under a Lieut. Governor appointed by the Governor General of Canada.

6.         That there shall be no interference by the Dominion Parlt [sic] in the local affairs of this Territory other than is allowed in the Provinces; and that this Territory shall have and enjoy in all respects, the same privileges, advantages [&] aids in meeting the expenses of this Territory as other Provinces have and enjoy.

7.         That while the North West remains a Territory the Legislature have a right to pass all laws local to the Territory over the veto of the Lt Governor [sic] by a two-thirds vote

8.         A Homestead & pre-emption law.[5]

9.         That while the North West remains a Territory the sum of $25.000 [sic] a year be appropriated for schools, roads & bridges.

10.       That all public buildings be at the expense of the Dominion Treasury.

11.       That there shall be guaranteed uninterrupted Steam Communication to Lake Superior within 5 years And also the establishment by rail of a connection with the American railway as soon as it reaches the International line.

12.       Struck out.

13.       That the English & French languages be common in the Legislature & Courts And that all public documents & Acts of the Legislature be published in both languages.

14.       That the Judge of the Supreme Court speak the French and English languages.

15.       That treaties be concluded between the Dominion and the [inserted] Several Indian tribes of the Country as som [sic: soon] as possible.

16.       That until the population of the Country entitles us to more, we have 3 representatives in the Canadian Parliament — 1 in the Senate & 2 in the Legislative Assembly.

17.       That all the properties, rights & privileges as hitherto enjoyed by us be respected, and that the recognition & arrangement of local customs usages & privileges be made under the control of the Local Legislature

18.       That the two Mile hay privilege be converted into fee simple ownership.

This last article was under discussion when the Committee adjourned the Feb 2d


Next List: #List(s) of Rights from Convention of Forty


* HBCA, E.9/1, 18–20. (In addition, pages 21–22 of the collection include entries titled “Losses at Red River,” “Retiring Interest of Officers,” and “Expenses in London.”)
[1] “Convention at Fort Garry,” New Nation (28 January 1870), 2–3; HBCA, E.9/1, Red River Rebellion Records, 6. The committee members were Thomas Bunn, James Ross, Dr. Curtis James Bird, Louis Riel, Louis Schmidt, and Charles Nolin.
[2] Louis Riel, quoted in “9th Day,” Convention of Forty, this site; “Convention at Fort Garry, Very Important Debates, The Bill of Rights,” New Nation (11 February 1870), 1–2; Hudson’s Bay Company Archives [HBCA], E.9/1, Red River Rebellion Records, 14.
[3]12th Day,” Convention of Forty, this site.
[4] “Convention at Fort Garry, English and French Delegates in Council. Mr. Smith’s Commission, Bill of Rights,” New Nation (4 February 1870), 1–2; HBCA, E.9/1, Red River Rebellion Records, 6–8.

[5]  Justice MacInnes, “Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. et al. v. Attorney General of Canada et al,” file 2007 MBQB 293, Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba (7 December 2007), page 88: 266, refers to Exbibit 1-0446, to note that in a confidential report to Joseph Howe, Alexander Smith explained that in the course of reviewing of the Bill of Rights during the Convention of Forty, when it came to the eighth provision, he had told the Convention:

I have been instructed by the Canadian Government—to make known to the people of the Settlement—that all property held by residents in peaceable possession will be secured to them; and that a most Liberal land policy in regard to the future Settlement of the country will be adopted,— every privilege in this respect enjoyed in Ontario or Quebec, being extended to the Territory [sic: punctuation in source].


Published 6 July 2011



  1. great information

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